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4.6 out of 5 stars559
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 24 April 2015
A subject I couldn't be less interested in....initially. This was a great story and written eloquently. I must be honest though and felt that the end was rushed compared to what I read for the first part of the book. It was a dissapointing end to a great tale but even so, I would reccomend the book. I have come away inspired, and will certainly be reading more about Japan and the people in it.
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on 28 February 2015
A fascinating insight into a lifestyle and culture unknown to me. I was hooked from page one and really enjoyed the journey through Chiyo's life. I would recommend this book to all young women as not only an interesting read but a timely reminder of how women have been able to progress over the last century.
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on 13 December 2013
I saw this book at a second hand bookshop and decided to buy it on Kindle. I was amazed at how good it is. It is a true look through the eyes of a Geisha. Not seedy at all and lovely written. I would recommend this book. Is easy reading.
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on 22 September 2014
"We don't become geisha so our lives will be satisfying. We become geisha because we have no other choice."

'Memoirs of a geisha' by Arthur Golden is an evocative narrative that tells the emotional and extraordinary day-to-day life story of a geisha girl in the 1930s and 1940s. It is written from the pov of the geisha.

Chiyo is a very poor girl with lovely grey eyes living in a 'tipsy' house on a hill in a small fishing village. She lives with her very ill mother, old father and her sister Satsu. One day Chiyo and her sister are taken away from their home to the Gion district of Kyoto. Here the sisters are immediately separated. Chiyo is taken to an 'okiya' or geisha house. In Gion she is sent to school to learn the arts of entertaining by taking classes in music, dance, tea ceremonies and comportment but, "The training of an apprentice geisha is an arduous path."

"We were made to toughen up our hands by holding them in ice water until we cried from pain ... And in fact toughening the hands in this way really did help me play better."

In the okiya, Chiyo suffers terribly at the cruel hands of the resident geisha Hatsumomo. Due to Chiyo's beautiful features, this geisha sees a rival in her and does all she can to get rid of her. The 'Mother' of the okiya does not care about Chiyo either, she cares only about her account books and sees Chiyo just as a business opportunity.

One day, while a young Chiyo is crying near a stream, a very elegant man comes in her aid. He is accompanied by a geisha who calls him 'Chairman'. This man speaks gently to Chiyo, and before he goes away, he gives her his handkerchief and a coin to buy some sweets. This is the first person to have talked kindly to Chiyo since she came to Gion. She is immediately infatuated with and drawn to this man, though she doesn't know who he is. From this day onwards, the Chairman is always in Chiyo's thoughts. Who is this man? Will she ever see him again? Will he recognize her?

Years pass. Under the direction of a beautiful geisha called Mameha, Chiyo has now become an established geisha named Sayuri. Mameha ensures that Sayuri is known by all men and mistresses of Gion's many teahouses. Sayuri has now reached the moment of her 'mizuage'. In other words, wealthy men bid money and the highest bidder wins the right to deflower her. Who will win this right?

Sayuri's story goes on during the horrible war years and afterwards when she has to attract a 'danna', that is a wealthy man who pays all her expenses and buys her gifts in return for the pleasure of her company and services. Sayuri has only one man in her mind for this role but the odds of her dream ever becoming a reality are almost nonexistant.

In my opinion the story tends to drag a bit towards the last part. Another thing is that I found rather far-fetched the fact that this girl spent almost her entire existence obsessed with this one man and with only one aim in her mind - to be the Chairman's lover.

Having said that, I really had a great time reading this book. The narrative is almost poetic at times. I learned a lot about the Japanese Geisha culture. The author uses Japanese terms (with their explanation) to draw the reader more into the story. 'Memoirs of a geisha' is a very entertaining, well-researched story.
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on 21 October 2014
I didn't buy this book on Amazon, I bought it in a charity shop. I don't think I would have bought it on Amazon. It's not the usual sort of book that interests me. but in the charity shop it was 3 for a £1.00 and this one just made up the third because I'd heard of it.

Best 33 pence I've spent in a while. It grabbed me from start to finish. The best reads usually incorporate much of life. This is the case with this book. Also, and perhaps most importantly, it's well written. by that I mean the prose flows and there are not many big long words.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read. I always feel a sense of loss at the end of a good book. This one I was really sad to finish because I'd enjoyed it so much.
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on 12 January 2006
This book is probably one of the best I've ever read. It allows an insight into a culture that isn't really understood in Western society, and shows what life is actually like for a geisha of Gion. It opens your eyes to another, completely different world and does it in a way that makes you think about it from an objective point of view, rather than comparing it to our lives and culture.
Reading Memoirs of a Geisha is entertaining, funny and thought-provoking, often sad but always heart warming - despite some of the customs/events that would be shocking in the UK, you're never tempted to judge Sayuri (the main character, the geisha) for her actions. Instead you live through it with her and understand what and why she did.
This book is inspirational in that Sayuri goes through so much just to survive, and yet the way the book is written lets us see that it's not unusual for a geisha to go through even more than she did.
I would recommend Memoirs of a Geisha even to people who usually like a lighter read, because even though it's sometimes sad and makes you think a lot, it's also funny and you really feel for Sayuri. A brilliant and utterly engaging read.
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on 21 June 2014
I enjoyed this book immensely. It gave a glimpse into the strange, bizzare and intriguing world of geisha and Japanese culture in early twentieth century. Written with delicate sensitivity, the reader is at one with Sayuri and feels with her and though willing her to be less subservient, walks with her through the daily routines and tribulations of her life.
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on 4 May 2015
I read this years ago & it stayed with me so thought it was time for another reading. I still love it just as much! Mostly I love how you're transported to another world, one I never even knew existed before I read this the first time. It's a world with so much tradition behind it. I liked Chio/Sayuri, I wanted to know what happend to her & thought she was a good guide to her world. I expect I will be reading this again!
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 12 January 2015
I found this an edifying read. Of course the research cannot be faulted but, for me, the central character never came truly alive. I felt that the author was documenting her life in a dispassionate narrative. It's an enjoyable book but I would recommend Spring Moon by Bette Bao Lord is a more enjoyable read.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 17 November 2008
If you have only experienced the movie, let me make it as clear as possible: you have barely scraped the surface. This a very rich and rewarding novel that will absorb you into another time, a far away land and a completely alien mentality. Welcome to the Floating World of the Geishas in its twilight.

This is loosely based on the true story of Mineko Iwasaki (whose much more accurate autobiography is also available under the title Geisha: A Life) presented in the form of a novel by a brilliant Arthur Golden (too bad he did not follow up his success with a second novel).

Japan in the years following WWI was a country in transition. The old ways were on their way out yet they have a way of soothing the soul of any nation, especially one found itself caught in limbo, between progress and tradition. In this transitional world Sayuri is offered the chance to become a Geisha. The unique color of her eyes, her patience and artistic abilities soon propel her to the position of the most famous Geisha of them all. But one should always be wary of what he wishes for.

Fame and success are never a guarantee for personal happiness. Predictably, Sayuri's love story is bittersweet and has many false starts. In fear of spoilers, I shall only say that life is never boring.

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